Joe and I have become very accustomed to an old house with low ceilings. The heights differ from room to room, but some of the rooms are just shy of eight feet. That means our tall friends have to be very careful when walking around. We have worked to expose beams and gain height wherever possible, and we are currently making some decisions about how we can gain some height in the work area of the new kitchen. Until recently, the plaster ceiling in that room was pretty decrepit. But when we ripped it down, we discovered some nice beams (excepting the one that a plumber cut into to accomodate a pipe...but that's a story for another day!). However, there is a lot of plumbing and wiring that needs to happen in this space, so we are working with Tom right now to figure out how we can keep the beams somewhat exposed, while hiding the ugly plumbing that needs to stay there.
A few ideas: shiplap that will cover the beams, but allow for a more streamlined look, or insulating between the beams and then plastering over the insulation, allowing for more beam to show (our preference, but far more complicated to pull off). The jury is still out, and Tom is working on ideas to make this more usable space (while trying to get get at least a few more inches of height out of it). Above is a picture of the current ceiling and kitchen.